Officials in Afghanistan suspended two Christian Aid Organizations from working in the country yesterday over accusations that the groups were evangelizing, according to the New York Times.
Both groups—Church World Service and Norwegian Church Aid—say they do not evangelize, which is illegal in Afghanistan.
The accusations arose when an Afghan television station, Noorin TV, broadcast photographs that it claimed showed Westerners baptizing Afghans. The station aired the “suspicions” after finding the names of the two organizations listed in a telephone directory. After the broadcast, officials in the government issued orders for the two groups to suspend their activities, even though no actual evidence had been produced.
Both groups operate large relief efforts in the country, working with hundreds of employees and distributing millions of dollars in aid. Both say they operate within the boundaries of the Afghan constitution, which outlaws converting to any religion from Islam or encouraging others to do so.
Mohammed Sediq Amarkhiel, a spokesman for the Ministry of Economy, which regulates aid groups working in the country, told the New York Times that even though no evidence has been produced, the government will be investigating the claims of the television studio.
“If they are really involved in proselytizing Afghan people for Christianity, then definitely these people will be introduced to the judicial authorities,” Amarkhiel said. [nytimes, 5/31/10]